Moderating epistemic injustice in teaching: A case study of the role of Teaching Assistants


Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores some manifestations of social injustice in schools in South Africa and outlines possible ways in which the role of teaching assistants (TAs) may help to ameliorate this situation. The township and rural schools attended by many black children are often poorly resourced, overcrowded and teachers struggle to provide quality educational experiences. These issues are systemic in nature and thus unlikely to be either easily or quickly changed. However, while such conditions pertain, we still need to work within the present system. Drawing on a case study from a peri-urban community in the Eastern Cape, we explain how it is possible to reduce the epistemic injustice that can result when children and teachers come from vastly differing communities and beliefs. Working closely with the TAs, who live in the community and work in the school, we supported the development of increased empathy by teachers for challenges facing parents and admiration for the resilience they showed in dealing with adversities. The increased understanding of the community knowledge base led to changed attitudes and different behaviours. The teachers began to view the TAs as a valuable support towards adopting more inclusive practices. In effect, the TAs acted as an ‘epistemic bridge’ between the two communities, thus building the foundations for more socially just teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmbedding social justice in teacher education and development in Africa.
EditorsCarmel McNaught, Sarah Gravett
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Apr 2020

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